Lambda Legal Applauds 10th Circuit Ruling Striking Down Utah Marriage Ban

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June 25, 2014

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a decision upholding a District Court ruling striking down Utah’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, said:

What a great day! The 10th Circuit not only becomes the first federal appellate court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry, but does it in the strongest language, reinforcing emphatically that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to marry for all of us. Congratulations to our colleagues at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, co-counsel on this case, along with the Utah firm of Magleby & Greenwood.

This is the first federal appellate court ruling since the historic ruling last summer in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” Taylor added. “Along with today’s ruling in our case out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana striking down that state’s marriage ban, these rulings continue the unbroken string of victories for the freedom to marry sweeping across the nation. Today we also joined a case seeking the freedom to marry in Puerto Rico and we hope to extend the wave of victories to more jurisdictions.

Today’s decision came in the State of Utah’s appeal of the lower court ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert.

In its opinion, the 10th Circuit asserted:

A generation ago, recognition of the fundamental right to marry as applying to persons of the same sex might have been unimaginable. A generation ago, the declaration by gay and lesbian couples of what may have been in their hearts would have had to remain unspoken. Not until contemporary times have laws stigmatizing or even criminalizing gay men and women been felled, allowing their relationships to surface to an open society. As the district court eloquently explained, ‘it is not the Constitution that has changed, but the knowledge of what it means to be gay or lesbian.’ Consistent with our constitutional tradition of recognizing the liberty of those previously excluded, we conclude that plaintiffs possess a fundamental right to marry and to have their marriages recognized.

Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the court brief arguing that marriage is a fundamental right.

Read the press release.